SDLP Infrastructure Spokesperson Mark H Durkan has expressed serious concerns that the Department for Infrastructure’s (DfI) 2023/24 budget allocation could impact on public safety.
The department were already facing severe budget challenges and took steps including a one-off decision to use Translink’s reserves to help maintain public transport services during the last financial year.
The recent allocation will see DfI face a 14% cut in resource budget.
The Foyle MLA commented:
“It’s patently clear that existing budget pressures within the department is impacting frontline services - nowhere are those pressures more evident than on our road network; from the struggle to properly grit routes last winter to the growing numbers of potholes across the region.
“In January this year I attended a briefing with the Permanent Secretary, where officials detailed their ‘worst case scenarios’ should the budget fail to meet their £100 million deficit. Sadly, the bleak picture painted four months ago has now come to bear with the very real possibility that streetlights will be turned off, the lifeline that is community transport will end, gritting services will be scrapped this winter and road maintenance will be reduced to ‘emergency only’ in an effort to save costs. That’s just a snippet of what this budget will mean in real terms for the public.
“The department has laid out in no uncertain terms that the allocation will leave them unable to properly maintain their assets and deliver frontline services and I have serious concerns that these cuts could compromise public safety on our roads. The SDLP will be meeting with the Permanent Secretary in the weeks ahead to raise our concerns and will endeavour to find a way forward to mitigate against the worst impacts of these drastic cuts.”